Morning Session: Justice Sebuntinde Absent in Court: Cross-Examination of Witness TF1-585 Continues

9:30am: When court resumed for its morning session, Justice Julia Sebuntinde was not present. Presiding judge, Justice Teresa Doherty announced to the court that Justice Sebuntinde could not attend court today for health reasons. Defense counsel Terry Munyard referenced Rule 16 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, which provides that “If a judge is unable to continue sitting in a proceeding, the trial…which has partly been heard for a short duration, and the remaining judges are satisfied that it is in the interest of justice to do so, those remaining judges may order that the proceeding…continue in the absence of that judge for a period of not more than five working days.”

Mr. Munyard stated that since the provision states that this will apply to a proceeding “which has partly been heard for a short duration,” and being that this trial has lasted for a longer time than a “short duration of time” it will not be wise for the two judges to proceed in Justice Sebuntinde’s absence.

Justice Lussick responded that the same rule states that the remaining judges may order that the proceedings continue but for not more than five days. He told counsel to wait and see if Justice Sebuntinde’s absence exceeds five days, then he can make his application. Mr. Munyard replied that in this case, the rule was poorly drafted and since the judges are also a party to the application, defense counsel is at a disadvantage. Justice Lussick again informed counsel that all judges in this chamber were not part of the drafting of that rule and so did not anticipate this. Defense counsel said that he considered the issue resolved and that the proceedings should continue.

Defense counsel Mr. Morris Anyah then proceeded with the Cross-Examination of the Witness

Defense counsel focussed his cross-examination on radio operators who monitored ECOMOG operations and the movement of the ECOMOG jet, referencing testimonies given by other witnesses, the death of Sam Bockarie, and the alledged raid on Johnny Paul Koromo (JPK) for diamonds in Buedu.

Radio Operators Monitoring ECOMOG Operations

Defense counsel asked the witness about that radio code that monitored the movement of the ECOMOG jets which were used to bomb RUF targets. The witness confirmed that the code was 448.  Defense asked the witness whether she knew of ECOMOG jets flying from Lungi airport in Sierra Leone to attack RUF targets. The witness said she could not tell if that happened. Asked whether the 448 code was applicable to ECOMOG jets flying from Liberia or Lungi, the witness said the code was to monitor any jet that moved, regardless of where it left from. When asked about a radio operator called Vandy Gbamayaji, the witness confirmed that he monitored ECOMOG operations in Buedu.  When asked about Perry Kamara, another radio operator, the witness stated that she knew of King Perry, an RUF radio operator who was with Gullit when they attacked Freetown in January 1999.  Defense counsel referenced King Perry’s testimony before the court when he said that ECOMOG jets took off from Lungi to bomb RUF targets. The witness said that she cannot confirm if the jets took off fron Lungi because she was based in Buedu. King Perry also testified that an AFRC radio operator in Buedu was responsible for monitoring the movement of the ECOMOG jets. The witness responded that she was not aware of this. Defense counsel referenced another witness’s testimony who said same thing as King Perry. Defense counsel asked the witness whether Gbamayaji monitored ECOMOG jets with the 448 code. The witness said that she knew that Gbamayaji monitored ECOMOG operations but cant say whether it had to do with jets on the 448 code. Defense suggested to the witness that she is saying Gbamayaji did not monitor the jets on 448 because she wants the court to believe that all monitoring of jets on 448 were done from Liberia.

The Death of Sam Bockarie

Defense counsel asked the witness about the time she left Liberia for Sierra Leone. Witness said that this was in 2002. Defense asked the witness whether this was after the death of Sam Bockarie, The witness answered, yes. Defense counsel showed the witness an autopsy report on the death of Sam Bockarie which stated that he died on May 6, 2003. The witness responded that they could have written the wrong date.

Johnny Paul Koroma

Defense counsel asked the witness about how Johnny Paul Koroma travelled to Buedu. The witness explained that JPK was first taken to Kono and then based on a radio message that she heard, Taylor had told Sam Bockarie that JPK was to be taken to Buedu. Defense counsel asked the witness about discussions she said took place between Taylor and Sankoh about taking JPK to Buedu when infact at that time, Sankoh was in detention. The witness said she was only reporting what she heard Bockarie say. Defense counsel asked the witness about her earlier testimony when she said that Bockarie was not present when Issa Sesay and others raided JPK for diamonds. The witness responded that Bockarie was in Buedu but was not at the house where the raid took place. Defense referenced the witness’s written statement to prosecuion where she was quoted as saying Bockarie was present but left just when the raid started. The witness said she did not say so. Defense counsel asked the witness about allegations that Issa Sesay raped JPK’s wife Makuta. He referenced testimonies of other witnesses who said that no such thing took place. The witness responded that it did take place as Makuta herself confirmed it to her.

Defense asked that the court be moved into closed session in order to clarify certain things about the testimony.

Court adjourned.